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Advanced Climbing Techniques - What Are They And How Are They Done?

Profile image Adam M.
Sep 26
General Climbing
Learn advanced climbing techniques used by more experienced climbers and why they can help you advance to the next level and complete your project.
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Climbing is an evolving sport where mastery of basic techniques is just the beginning. Advanced climbing techniques take your skills to new heights. Let's try to make the differences between basic technique and advanced climbing technique clearer.

Article Contents

Elevating Your Climbing Game

As climbers progress in their journey, they inevitably seek ways to take on more challenging routes and reach greater heights. This quest for advancement leads to the exploration of advanced climbing techniques.

So, what sets these techniques apart from the basics?

Efficiency: Advanced climbing techniques prioritize efficiency in movement and energy expenditure. Every move is deliberate, and climbers waste minimal energy on the wall. This allows them to continue climbing in a controlled manner rather than desperately making each move.

Fluidity and Control: Advanced climbers possess an unparalleled sense of fluidity and control. Their movements are precise, and they can adjust their positioning effortlessly. Imagine those climbers who climb your projects as if they are warm-up routes, remember how easy they make those routes seem, this is the unparalleled control they have over their body and on the wall.

Mental Resilience: Climbing at an advanced level requires mental resilience. Advanced climbers tackle routes that test their limits, demanding unwavering focus and determination. As much as climbing is physical, it's also a mental sport, and being as strong in the mind as you are in your body can help take you from a beginner level to a more advanced level, even if you are not physically the strongest yet.

How Can Advanced Climbers Improve Their Footwork and Balance?

Footwork and balance are the foundation of climbing. Advanced climbers continuously refine these skills to climb more efficiently, many times resulting in climbing difficult routes while looking as if they were easy.

Mastering Footwork

Advanced climbers excel in footwork, using their feet not just for upward movement but also for balance and stability.

Quiet Feet Technique: Advanced climbers aim for "quiet feet," meaning their foot placements are deliberate and silent. This minimizes energy expenditure and improves balance. Rather than just throwing their feet on a hold or on the wall, they place their feet exactly where they want them in a very controlled manner, preventing them from placing them in the wrong place and slipping or falling.

Try It Yourself: A great practice exercise to improve climbing technique and efficiency through footwork is to play the "Quite Game". It's a very simple game, but can easily become a very difficult game, even on low grades.

The rules are simple: Don't make any noise while you are on the wall. If you make a noise, you must come down and start over.

This includes your hands and your feet. When you place your feet, do not make any tapping or banging noises, this will require you to place your feet slowly and precisely. The same applies to your hands, when you place your hands, or move your hands in any way, try to do it as quietly as possible. If at any point you hear a noise from your climbing, other than maybe the velcro of your shoes or your clothes rubbing against something, you must come down from the route, and try again.

Starting even from the easiest climbs, you will see how quickly this easy game can become difficult. It's a game that can be very rewarding if you stick to it and play it correctly.

The Delicate Art of Balance

Balance is key to climbing, especially on less-than-vertical terrain or features like slabs. Advanced climbers practice balance techniques to stay on the wall, allowing them to reduce the strain on their upper body from pulling themselves throughout the whole climb.

Smearing: Smearing involves using the friction of your climbing shoes against the rock when there are no holds. Advanced climbers become experts at smearing to help gain more balance on smoother surfaces with fewer holds.

Dyno Balancing: Dynos (dynamic moves) require split-second balance adjustments. Advanced climbers adapt quickly to maintain control during dynamic moves.

Toe And Heel Hooks: Climbers either love them or hate them, but the facts don't lie; properly toe hooking and heel hooking is a game changer. They help keep you balanced and closer to the wall. They also help elevate you to the next hold rather than having to pull your weight mainly through your upper body. Learning how to hook your feet properly can make a significant improvement in your climbing efficiency and style.

Are There Specific Techniques for Crack Climbing and Face Climbing?

Advanced climbing techniques extend to specialized skills required for various types of climbing, such as crack and face climbing.

Crack Climbing Mastery

Crack climbing is a unique discipline that demands specific skills. Advanced crack climbers excel in:

Jamming: Hand and foot jamming is essential for ascending cracks efficiently. Advanced crack climbers can jam their limbs securely into various crack sizes.

Offwidth Techniques: Offwidth cracks present a different challenge. Advanced climbers utilize techniques like the "chicken wing" and "arm bar" to navigate these wide cracks.

Conquering Faces

Face climbing is all about using holds on the rock face itself. Advanced climbers hone skills that include:

Smearing and Edging: Smearing and precise edging are crucial on featureless faces. Advanced climbers rely on these techniques to help keep them close to the wall and prevent slipping.

Flagging and Opposition: Flagging a leg and creating opposition with limbs helps maintain balance on smooth faces. Advanced climbers seamlessly incorporate these movements into their climbs. This technique is not unique to just face climbing, it is used throughout climbing in all types of routes.

What Role Does Mental Resilience Play in Advanced Climbing?

Advanced climbing isn't just about physical prowess; it's a mental game as well. Mental resilience is a cornerstone of advanced climbing.

Pushing Past Limits - The Mental Challenge

Climbing at an advanced level frequently involves pushing past physical and mental barriers. Advanced climbers possess the mental resilience to:

Manage Fear: Fear is a natural part of climbing, especially at higher grades. Advanced climbers learn to manage fear and stay focused on the task at hand.

Adapt to Adversity: Advanced climbers encounter unforeseen challenges on routes. They adapt quickly, solve problems, and maintain composure.

Can Advanced Techniques Benefit Climbers in Competitions and Extreme Climbs?

Advanced climbing techniques aren't limited to just climbing harder routes. They also benefit climbers in competitions and extreme climbs.

Competition Climbing

In climbing competitions, advanced techniques offer a competitive edge. Climbers who can execute complex movements with precision are more likely to succeed.

Thriving in Extreme Environments

Extreme climbs, whether in remote alpine regions or on towering big walls, demand advanced skills. These climbs often involve:

Multi-Pitch Mastery: Advanced climbers are proficient in multi-pitch techniques, allowing them to tackle long routes efficiently.

Alpine Expertise: Alpine climbing requires advanced skills in navigating unpredictable terrain and rapidly changing conditions.

Related Articles
How do you transition from top-rope to lead climbing?


Making the transition from a beginner climber to a more advanced climber does take time, but, with the right training and understanding of more advanced skills and techniques, you can work on closing that gap sooner rather than later by not learning these advanced techniques. It can get that much closer to sending your project and on to starting your next.

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